Roots before Branches: To know who I am

Last night, I had a conversation with a dear friend. I call her dear, because, she’s precious to me. I’ll tell you why. She has to get a small spiel from me, and it’s because even though, we’ve met and sort of known each other in high school and before college,  she was the one to reach out to me as soon as I returned home from California this past January. I wasn’t all that aware that I’d need someone like her in my life at the time, but ever since then, she’s been one of the few constants in my life thus far. I appreciate having her to talk to every single day, even multiple times a day. Her perspective matters a great deal to me, and I’m ever so grateful to the Lord for bringing her into my life.
She also keeps a blog, you can read it here: http://hiddencourage.wordpress.com/about-2/

Now, getting back to the conversation, we talked about my mom. Just from her knowing me and what I’ve talked about concerning my mom, she said a few things that meant a lot:

The context is this – – I’m trying to figure out who I am right now. There isn’t anything in particular stopping me, and I have a lot of growing to do, but that’s the basis of this whole thing – I’m trying to figure it all out. So I started this part of the conversation by saying that the majority of people that I know me call me cute, and sweet – – [ explanation: but rarely do I hear anyone tell me that I’m pretty, or smart (am I?) or beautiful. Once in a blue moon will I hear those and maybe several others, but in general it’s the “you’re sweet” and “you’re so cute”] – – on many levels, I could say it’s just wrong. Why? Because an adult woman, doesn’t want to be called something that most people would call children. I had this one instance where a friend of mine told me that a dress I was interested in buying looked “too grown up” for me. It was almost like being shot. What was that even supposed to mean? The point is, I’m still treated more like a girl and not necessarily a 24 year old woman.
I told her that I could just play off the cute part and let that be my talent, (because I have no idea what my talent is..) and on occasion I do actually like being cute…it’s just not cool when it trumps my being an adult and my womanhood.

Abigail: what do you like about your mom?
            is there a characteristic of who she is that you want to be???
Me
: creative
she was very creative
Abigail: I feel like it’s a lot more about your person than about what you’re doing
Me:
in the things she made, etc.
I never thought I’d want to be like my mom
but
she was creative. Made things, decorated the house, etc.

and her person

she really loved the Lord

despite how she felt in being sick, etc.

Abigail
: anything else?
Me
: that’s all i’ve got right now
i don’t remember much
      I have to rely on what my family tells me about her
      oh!
     she was a fighter
     and stubborn
i like the fighter part

Abigail: it’s a characteristic of overcoming 🙂
  I didn’t know your mom at all
  but from the cards, it seems that she had a very large heart
  cared for a lot of the saints in a personal way
  people felt connected to her
  they weren’t just coming by to do their duty
 Abigail:I see that in you as well
 Me: really?
 Abigail: yeah
  you care about a few people very, very much
  me, ……, your dad, your sister
 and you really cared about certain sisters who shepherded your mom
  you wanted to be able to reach out to them to honor your mom
  write something special
  help convey the gratitude you feel toward them for helping you have more time with your mom
  and even when you talk about what you want to study
  it’s more than self-fulfillment

This meant so much to me. Here’s where I jump into some Biblical aspect of it all: the end result of our lives is really to express Christ. In the Life-Study of Genesis message 109 – it says this: “The quality of a man’s life and the outcome of his life are determined primarily by the last stage of his life, not by the first stage. It can be compared to runners in a race. It does not mean much that you run well at the beginning of the race. The final result is what counts.” – – As you read through that specific message, it’ll talk more about Jacob and Paul. The end of both of their lives is significant, but in this case, Paul’s end was much simpler than Jacob’s. Jacob had been involved in so many things, his wives, his children, geographical regions, and Paul, on the other hand, had no involvements such as those that Jacob had. Paul died in prison. Jacob, at the end of His life, having been touched by God (three circumcisions: as a baby, when he wrestled with God and again on His deathbed) He came to absolutely trust in Him. He no longer had any natural strength, but had to trust in the grace of God absolutely, having no ability to move on his own.

Personally, I have often felt as though I couldn’t move in any direction. Many times. By reading over this life study again, I realize that I’m finally getting to a point where I need to trust the Lord and take His grace for whatever it is that He’s intending in me and for me.
Moving right along to this morning’s message (the second one) of the Memorial Day Conference. I was touched by this matter of the boards in the tabernacle needing to be overlaid with gold. The gold is God Himself. The wooden boards are us, but they are boards of acaciawood, signifying that if we are the boards, we cannot be common boards, we have to be those transformed, overlaid with gold. As we are overlaid with gold, as we are saturated with God Himself (the gold) eventually the individual boards are not seen, but the gold is seen. This means that the end result is just gold. Our prayer needs to be that of receiving more gold, receiving more of God. Then, only is our natural life, our natural strength, completely gone. Lord, I need more gold, I need more God!!!
I want to gain more of God!! – – I have to confess that ever since my mom’s passing, I’ve been struggling with the feelings that I just don’t want to remain believing in the Lord. I want to just live my own life and not have to own up to Him, or to anyone for that matter. However, my realization is this: I need more God. The only way I’m going to get more God is by turning to Him, staying in His word in a steady way and remaining with the other believers, with the saints. Over all, the Lord needs to be glorified, expressed in us.

To see my mom at the end of her life as one who glorified the Lord in the way she loved the saints and loved Him…that’s truly an expression of our God.
That is what I want to be like. I always question every step I make however small, however big, because I know that in some form or another I’m supposed to be expressing Christ. I’m really bad at this at the moment. I keep failing, but we all do, so I’m not just writing it off, we have a long ways to go. But when people see me at the end of my life, what will they say about me? To others, can I express my God?

Anyway, I need to grow more in the Lord. That’s where this song comes in:
“So many things to do and say,
But I can’t seem to find my way
But I wanna know how
I know I’m meant for something else.
But first I gotta find myself
But I don’t know how….

I gotta have roots before branches
to know who I am
before I know who I wanna be
and faith to take chances
to live like I see
a place in this world for me”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KJwyQ7F7Dg

So, can I let Him grow in me? Can I get to know who I am to the extent that I’m willing to let Him in so that He can grow be expressed?
This is my time to figure out who I am, but to also let the Lord more into my being so that He would be fully expressed through me. It’s a struggle, letting my natural life, my old man, completely die so that the Lord would fully have His way, but that’s why I like learning. I’m learning to be a Christian that can express Him. Little by little. He’s faithful. He’ll complete the good work. I just need to trust Him. He causes the growth in us. He’ll do it. I don’t always have faith, but He does.
So my roots in Him need to be perfected so that they can be branches in His vine. I trust He’ll help me figure out who I am along the way and where I’m supposed to be, where He wants to lead me to be.

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The cute box people

Image

Sorry, I couldn’t resist the photo. I really like the cute box people. ❤

I have a running list of 3-4 topics to write about. Therefore, I think I’m just going to make a list of what I want to write about. One or two may end up in my personal journal. (You know, the one that I actually hand write in…still not nearly enough as I should, though). Anyway, here’s the list:

1. I’ve decided to make a second blog related to this one, solely for the purpose of speaking forth Christ – i.e. sharing my enjoyment on a regular basis (Bible reading, ministry reading, conferences, etc.) But I need a name for it, any suggestions?

2. My enjoyment from the first message of the Memorial Day Conference

 

3. How, I’m learning to drive a stick-shift car – – learning to drive so that I can eventually “own” it and not my current one, which is automatic. This stuff is more difficult than I thought! Whew..

4. Friends. I need more friends. Actually, I’m not sure that I do, but reading MWF seeking BFF makes me want to try my own experiment of friend dating.

If you have a particular topic you’re interested in hearing about, let me know. I’m tackling one of these for a blog entry for tomorrow and the rest will go in my personal journal. ❤

Signing off,
– – L

Link

Waiting and Healing…

One of my favorite group of verses in the Bible is Isaiah 40:28-31– –

28. “Do you not know,
Or have you not heard,
That the eternal God, Jehovah,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
      Does not faint and does not become weary?
There is no searching out of His understanding.
29. He gives power to the faint,
And to those who have no vigor He multiplies strength.
30. Although youths will faint and become weary,
And young men will collapse exhausted;
31. Yet those who wait on Jehovah will renew their strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles;
They will run and will not faint;
They will walk and will not become weary.”

In my 2nd term (semester) of the training (Bible school), I sang verses 29-31 with the study notes A LOT. I still remember. I was learning the tune. It was in this term that my heart broke. I had just found out that my mom was re-diagnosed with cancer. That’s the formal way to say it. In practical terms, the cancer was back. She wasn’t going to fight it this time. The medicines weren’t going to work anymore. Her body was already weak and fragile, that to take any medicines or treatment would kill her. Why do that to herself? I understood. It was her decision. We all had to make peace with it. She was told she had six months to a year to live (in September of 2011)- she passed away within the six month period.
It hurt, to find the news out and the way I found out, it wasn’t directly through them (my parents). It was through someone else – – some saints, dear to me, one in particular, who I was already having issues with, who also hurt me. I’ve forgiven that person since then (and no, it had nothing to do with the news about my mom), BUT nonetheless, I was hurt, I was broken, I felt like I couldn’t move or go on. I was amazed to have gotten through that term. These verses, this song, supplied me the whole way through.

Well, with my mom’s passing, I think everyone else realizes more than I do, that I’m more broken, more hurt, that one of the closest people to me in my entire life, has left me. Though I try to not feel abandoned, sometimes I do…I know she’s in a good place and not suffering anymore, but it hurts. It will always hurt. It hurts less now than it did (exactly) seven weeks ago, and with time it’ll get better. But it hurts. I miss hearing her say “I love you too” every time I told her that I loved her. I miss being able to give her a hug or cuddle with her. I miss that one time she took me down the hallway from her bedroom to the kitchen as I was helping her walk and she did a little jig (a little dance) with me. (Thank you La for teaching me to be spontaneous in that respect, for had I not had THOSE times with you, I wouldn’t have been able to have that special moment with my mom and enjoy it)

It’s hard for me to write about her, the emotions well up and I cry, but I need you to have the context of where I’m about to lead to:

There is healing in His wings. ( I read this statement in Beth Moore’s book, the one I mentioned in my previous post) And I can’t get this statement out of my head for the life of me. I’m not struggling with what I’m doing in the Fall term. My intention is to return to the training – – and there is healing in His wings. I keep thinking this. I’m going back, not really expecting anything but KNOWING that there is healing in His wings. I have to trust that. I need healing. I’m doing surprisingly well for a person who’s broken inside and doesn’t really feel that way. I know I’m broken. I know I need healing. But I’m not scared. I want to be healed.

So, the study note for ‘wings’ in verse 31 says: “The eagles’ wings signify the resurrection power of Christ, God’s power in life, becoming our grace.. Those who stop themselves and wait on Jehovah will experience the power of resurrection, will be transformed, and will soar in the heavens.” I want to soar. I want the fullest enjoyment of my God when I go back. And here’s the thing, I can have that. There’s nothing weighing me down right now. Nothing.

The burden of  caring for my mom is gone. The burden of having someone on my heart is lifted. There is nothing keeping me from being able to fully enjoy and receive all that the Lord will give to me in the next following months. I’m so happy for this. So so happy. I’m “free” in a sense.
There’s the consideration of where I’ll go to graduate school, and the process it’ll take, but that’s not a burden, because I’m so excited about where the Lord might place me. I may have to relocate, but it’s really exciting to not have any ties to here, and to be free to move, and to know that my family will support me 100% as long as I have the Lord’s leading – but more on that later. That’s kind of a ways away.

Right now, I’m learning to wait on the Lord for His timing. Right now, I want to be open to His healing.

Psalm 147:3
“He heals the brokenhearted
And binds up their wounds.”

Isaiah 53:5
” But He was wounded because of our transgressions;
He was crushed because of our iniquities;
The chastening for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we have been healed.”

Mark 5:34
“And He said to her, Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be well from your affliction (be freed from your suffering, NIV).”

And a list of scriptures of waiting, not sure what version, it’s not RcV, but if you’re like me, you’ll look those up after reading the list:  http://www.timesofrefreshing.ca/resources/waiting%20on%20god%20scriptures.pdf

Can you trust Him?

When my mom passed away,  I came to realize that I have a world of options in front of me.
I can choose to do several things:

1. Go back to California and finish Bible school
2. Live on my own by working and supporting myself
3. Go back to school and get my Master’s so I can have an actual career – but it would have to be good for being in the church life…

Seeing as though I’m pretty pessimistic usually, I find it hard to believe I could actually accomplish number 3.

My mom having told me that I have my whole life in front of me, to live, keeps resonating in my being. She was a person who knew how to take care of herself, and how to take care of things in a certain way (but with the Lord with her all the time) – – when I look at my sister, I see those very same characteristics in her that our mom had. Characteristics that I was deemed not able to possess – at least for the time being.

I know that many can say that we learn by doing – – but I feel like, in many ways, I haven’t gotten my chance to learn “to do” yet.

And I have absolutely no idea what to do. Nor am I willing to figure it all out in a rush. At the moment, staying right where I am and not moving seems to be the best option, because if I move a step forward too many things will get thrown my way and I won’t know what to do with it all.

I’ve been reading this book called “So Long Insecurity – – you’ve been a bad friend to us”  by Beth Moore (she’s apparently famous, but I’ve never heard of her until I received the book from a relative) I’m at the end, basically, and in a certain chapter she speaks on trusting God. I need to share this because I think we all need to be reminded.
A lot of our insecurities come from our fears – we need to ask ourselves what we’re afraid of and then need to face the fact that we do get scared sometimes. The enemy will use our fears against us and fool us into thinking that we can never do anything because if we do, we’ll come crashing down, therefore causing us to just sit at home and not move. (Sound familiar? As in what I just mentioned a little bit above?)
Anyway, I think that every day I struggle with this decision of whether or not I can trust someone, whether it be a family member, a friend, or a random acquaintance(?) or even the Lord Himself. I ask the Lord whether or not I can trust Him, A LOT, many times in fact. At the end of the day my conclusion is always the same: that the only trustworthy one is the Lord Himself, even despite all the situations that He’s brought my way. I say this not based on the Word (although it IS based on the Word – the facts are there)  – – I say this because it’s proven true in the life experiences that I’ve had.

So, here’s what Mrs. Moore says (in several paragraphs):
Travel the earth and sail the seven seas. Delve into the world’s great philosophies and tinker with its religions if you can risk the time. If you’re candid with yourself, you’ll discover that there is no other constant than God. Nothing else will hold.”

You know somewhere deep down that there’s got to be a better way. And thankfully, there is. In order to plant our feet on solid ground, we can drop the conditions off of our trust and determine that God will take care of us no matter what.

Let me say that again.       No matter what.

I’m not saying that it’s easy. I’m stating that if we want to be secure people, this mind-set is a necessity. Sometimes trusting God means taking no further action. That’s when a verse like Psalm 46:10 speaks loudest: “Be still and know that I am God.”  Other times trusting in God means regrouping with Him until the fog clears so we know how to take the next step. Nothing can mislead us or make us jump the gun faster than fear. For times like these when action is necessary but not obvious, Proverbs 3:5-6 hits the nail on the head: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take” (NLT). ”

So…can I do nothing and regroup with Him (i.e. spend time before Him, seeking His face, and being infused with Him…) and just let Him carry me in waves of trusting in Him? – – And I have to ask, Can you?) I’ll admit – – I’m not sure I can, and you’d have to admit, you’re probably not sure either. But Lord willing, we ought to attempt to, or at least confess to Him that we’d like Him to work out this trusting in Him business in us.
Having a world of options in front of you concerning the rest of your life is a huge deal. It’s daunting and brings about fears that you never thought you’d have to face. And those big scary questions (that I probably should have been asking when I was in high school and not now…) of “What are you going to do for the rest of your life? or “What does your future hold now?” – – doesn’t necessarily help when in your mind that’s all your plagued with.

So, I have no idea what to do – where to go, how to do or be, but I do know that I’m at my wit’s end of having to think about all of it. Therefore, I’d like to stop, rest, and continue learning how to be before our God, so that I can trust Him – – because I don’t know what my next steps will be – – I don’t exactly know what He’d like of me, and how I can be one with His will – – but I’d like to trust Him, because He knows EXACTLY what He’s doing, and I don’t.

Trust in Jehovah, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself in Jehovah, And He will give you the requests of your heart.
Commit your way to Jehovah,  And trust in Him and He will act.
Be still before Jehovah, and wait for Him;”
– – – Psalm 37:3-5, 7a (RcV)

April Showers bring May flowers – metaphorical application to life?

You know that idiom that people tend to say around this time of year?

April showers bring May flowers” – Hence, the title?

Well, a friend pointed out that April didn’t have many showers, and the flowers bloomed way before May, which, in the state I live in, is quite true. BUT, I figure I would apply it to my life. Why?

Because, when I reflected on the statement itself, I realized, this has been my experience so far. Yes, I would say that April was a very difficult month – for my entire tripartite being (with the exception of being well during the part of my vacation that I was able to enjoy). And the month of May? I’m happy to report that I’m much happier now, and that things are looking up.

With that in mind, I had a conversation with my sister over my last post – in which we focused a lot on all the blessings we could see that occurred during April.So, I want to dedicate the rest of this post to mentioning all the blessings there are in my life. But let me point out:  I have a tendency to see the negatives, more often than the positives. In my last entry, I mentioned that it’s really hard for me to see the blessings in my life – they are there, they are just not so apparent to my eyes. That’s what I meant when I said that I’m learning to see them. I’d like to also say that I would hope that in the future, this part of me that sees the negative part of life more readily than the positive would change. I would change. But I can’t change myself. Only the Lord can do that. By His mercy, and His timing, this would be something that could be dealt with in a proper manner.

Bear with me, here’s where we get to the good part:
When those whom you know tell you something along the lines of: “Let the Lord shepherd your soul”, “He’s the chief Shepherd”, “He’s taking care of you”, “His way and His timing are higher than our ways”, “Everything will work out for the good”, (especially, His good), “He’s faithful to complete the good work He started in you”, and so forth. You have to take that to heart. Really, to heart. Save them within your being. It doesn’t matter if that’s already a fact and the words straight out of the Bible itself. If someone says it to you. If you read it. Keep it in your being. Because it’s true. You may not see it right away, but this is also part of the blessings part. Eventually, you will.

So, back in April, my mom died. That’s just the fact. I can’t do anything about it. I wish she wasn’t gone. It wasn’t unexpected. We knew it was getting closer to the end. We knew she had to go. But, the reality is, we’re never really prepared to see someone we love leave this earth. We miss her a lot. And here’s the blessing part:  But, the fact of the matter is, that her spirit is with the Lord and she’s in a far better place than we are (Phil. 1:23) – oh, not to mention that she doesn’t have to suffer any more physical pain! That’s a really comforting thought. Just like the apostle Paul, he had the desire to depart and be with Christ because it was far better, but had to remain in his flesh for the people’s sake. This was the Lord’s way for him.

That was blessing #1.

Are you still with me? – – Here, I’ll list and note out some of the others:

Blessing #2: Having the realization that saints from all over the world are praying for you.They are standing with you. Praying for your entire family. Why? Because when one member suffers (in the Body!) we all suffer (1 Cor. 12:26). My sorrow is your sorrow. Your joy, is my joy. When one member rejoices, we all rejoice. We can’t live without one another. For the sake of my going on in the Lord, and even being willing to continue meeting and coming to the Lord – – I need your intercessions. For the sake of your going on in the Lord – you need my intercessions. We do have a High Priest interceding on our behalf, but He also needs our prayers to help Him carry out His purpose within us (1 Tim. 2:1).

Blessing #3: The realization that your family is with you every step of the way. You don’t have to ask questions such as: “how are you feeling?” or “are you doing okay?” because each one of you has lost the same person. There’s an unspoken understanding. We have the freedom to laugh, to enjoy, to cry and to remember. (And for those of you who may not have this experience yet, I pray you would get to that point. At least if it’s not with your physical blood-related family, it’s the realization that you have the saints as your family too)

Blessing #4: God’s timing is always perfect. The realization that had I not been home (though I missed being with my fellow trainees in 4th term!) I would’ve regretted not being here. I don’t regret it one bit. And that thing, where I had to have surgery? That was also perfectly timed out by the Lord – why? Well, had I been anywhere else, I probably would’ve not known what to do. My sister was with me every step of the way through that experience and for that I am eternally grateful.

Blessing #5: Being grateful and thankful to the Lord and to all the saints for all they have done and provided for you. I don’t know where I would be without them. Proof? Saints bringing food to us. Their visiting my mom when she was at home and couldn’t move around much. My team sent me a card, and our team CD (when I had thought they had completely forgotten all about it!), my house sending me a huge HEART shaped card, because, well, they love me. ❤

Blessing #6: Being alive. Having the realization that your life was given to you to live in a certain way. Be happy to be alive. I have the rest of my life ahead of me. I’m not sure what to do with it but I know it’s supposed to serve a purpose for the Lord. It’s by His grace and mercy that I’m still here, even willing to live. (“Teach us then to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” -Psalm 90:12 ) If we enjoy the Lord to fullest extent, every minute and every day – then our life has a huge amount of meaning. That eternal weight of glory will be inside of us.

Blessing#7: Getting practical here: I am provided with everything I need, for now at least. (I suspect that a husband and children will come into the picture in due time – in the Lord’s timing of course) But for now, I’m pretty content that I have everything I need.

Okay, so I need to stop there for now. But I think I covered some major big, serious ones. I have my health, I have my family, I have friends who care about and love me, I have many years to look forward to. I’m still learning about life. I can smile. I can make mistakes and learn from them. And there’s so much more. I am really blessed. I’m just now learning this. I am really really blessed to have what I have in my life. There are people out there that don’t see their blessings and take life for granted. I don’t want to be that kind of person. I want to be happy (I am currently happy – which still amazes me) and enjoy the blessings that come my way – – that I’ve been given, that I’m thankful to the Lord for giving me.

It’s not an easy road. Dark times come, and then the light comes over the horizon and brings joy, and it’s a continuous cycle of downhills and uphills. But, through all this, the important thing is that you would reflect on what God has provided to you, the blessings He’s given to you, the love, the joy and peace that comes your way, and then to realize that through it all, whether difficult or not, your experiences are not in vain, and that they serve a purpose, to help you give comfort to those who need it, to help you realize that the Lord really is working in you to conform you more to the image of Himself – and most importantly, that this is all happening because He really does love you.

Don’t give ground to the enemy to tell you otherwise. If you’re in a low place, you need to fight him off – and then get up, dust your back off and keep moving forward, to run the race of the course that’s set before you.

I absolutely love this. I’ve given up. Surely I have. And I’ll still give up, but in the end, you’ll see that the Lord truly has done something in you with the desire that He’s gained you for His purpose. His purpose in you would be fulfilled.

So, April 2012 – you gave me difficulty, sorrow, hardship (the showers?), and in the midst of it all, many blessings – –
And May, you’re giving me joy, peace, rest, and happiness. (the flowers?) – and many more blessings!